In the middle of a Crohn’s flare? You know symptoms can be unpredictable. A kit packed with supplies can help you feel ready to handle them no matter where you are. Pick out a purse, gym bag, or backpack that you can load with the stuff you need to make you feel clean and comfortable.
Bathroom Request Card or Letter
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There may be times when there’s a long line or no public restroom. Ask your doctor about a letter or card that explains to others why you should be able to get into a bathroom ASAP. If you’re a member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, you can get an “I Can’t Wait” ID card.
Toilet Paper or Tissue
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Public restrooms might run low on toilet paper, or what they have may be rough and uncomfortable. Pack a small roll of TP or carry some tissues to avoid having to ask the person in the next stall to spare some squares.
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Alcohol can dry out your skin, so get wipes without it. Try to avoid scented wipes because perfume can irritate sensitive areas. Only use baby wipes or those made specifically for your bottom, not ones for removing makeup or other kinds. Read the instructions first.
A Small Mirror
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It’s important to make sure you’re clean after you go. Tiny bits of toilet paper left behind can irritate the skin around your bottom. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got it all, you might have to look.
Cream or Ointment
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If you’re prone to getting sore skin around your bottom, a simple zinc or castor oil cream may help. Only use a little bit. Too much won’t let your skin breathe and can cause bacteria to build up.
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Nonmedicated talcum powder or cornstarch might help if the skin around your bottom gets irritated. There are zinc oxide pastes (like for diaper rash) which avoids lung problems. Check with your doctor before using products that say “medicated” on the label.
Fresh Underwear and Clothing
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In case of an accident, roll clean underwear and an extra skirt or pair of shorts, pants, or leggings to save space. Pack clothing in a neutral color so it will match most of your outfits.
Disposable Gloves and Large Freezer Bags
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Use the gloves to handle soiled clothes, and put them in a large freezer bag until you can get them home to the laundry. If you’re allergic to latex, get latex-free gloves.
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Soap and water are best for washing up after you go to the bathroom, but hand sanitizer will do in a pinch if the soap dispensers in a public restroom are empty. Use one that has at least 60% alcohol. Then wash your hands with soap and water the next chance you get.
Air Freshener or Odor Neutralizer
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A small can or pump of air freshener or odor neutralizer will help take care of any smell you might leave behind. What’s the difference? Air fresheners mask odors temporarily by adding another layer of smell on top of them. Odor neutralizers get rid of smells permanently by absorbing or destroying smelly molecules in the air.
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If you’ve had surgery to remove part of your digestive tract and wear an ostomy bag, include an extra bag and ostomy adhesive in your kit.
Portable Clothing Pegs
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Portable clothing pegs or hooks that you can hang on the wall of the stall may come in handy if you have to change your underwear or clothing or you need both hands to clean.
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It’s always a good idea to have your prescription meds with you if you know you’re going to be away from home when you need to take your next dose. Ask your doctor if it’s OK to take over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine if you need to. If so, you can keep it in your kit.
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IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
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14) Amie Brink
Joshua R. Korzenik, MD, director of the Crohn's and Colitis Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Chestnut Hill, MA; assistant professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America: “Traveling with IBD,” “Life With Crohn’s & UC.”
FDA: “Disposable Wipes.”
U.K. National Health Service/My IBD Portal: “About Flare-Ups.”
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: “Anal Discomfort and How to Deal with It.”